What can happen when creative, talented and motivated high school students are turned loose to experiment in space, to do real science aboard the International Space Station?
Undergoing power and fit checks and a stint in the vacuum chamber, an elegant and sophisticated CubeLab payload from Valley Christian High School in San Jose went through a battery of mission readiness tests this week at the Kentucky Space labs at the University of Kentucky. Containing its own growing environment and monitoring system designed by students at Valley Christian, the two-unit CubeLab will record and relay data on plant growth in an effort to answer questions related to the effect of micro-gravity on the cultivation of plants in long duration space flight.
The payload is currently scheduled to go to the ISS in February aboard the Japanese HTV-2.
Kentucky Space enjoys regular access and egress from the station thanks to a strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC, and is currently working with customers needing to do repeatable, low-cost microgravity research. Each NanoRacks Platform - there are two on station now - hosts up to sixteen mini plug-and-play CubeLab modules, or combinations of labs such as the two-unit from Valley Christian shown here. Your payload inquiries are welcome.
If you are reading this news entry via our syndicated feed, video of the first platform being installed powered up on the ISS can be seen on the Kentucky Space web site.
Oct 19, 2010
Having passed a tough mission readiness review, KySat-1 has been cleared to be integrated as a secondary payload on the NASA climate mission, Glory.
Launch is currently scheduled for February, 2011.
Here is a picture of the spacecraft on the bench at a Kentucky Space lab at the University of Kentucky. It will soon be delivered to CalPoly, which will integrate it into the Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer, or PPOD, a standard launcher that deploys CubeSats once they have reached space.
KySat-1 incorporates S-band radio, a camera and the ability to talk to school children on playgrounds across the commonwealth.
Oct 18, 2010
Back from the International Space Station, CubeLab-2 was de-integrated today at Space Systems Lab at the University of Kentucky, which will compare the effects of radiation in space on the flown payload to an identical, control cube at the university.
CubeLabs are miniature plug-and-play labs powered by the NanoRacks Platform, each of which can host up to 16 of the experimental modules. Two racks are currently on the ISS.
In this video, watch astronaut Shannon Walker install the first NanoRacks Platform.
Thanks to its strategic partnership with NanoRacks, Kentucky Space enjoys regular access and egress from the station and is actively working with customers needing affordable, repeatable micro-G research opportunities.
Oct 15, 2010
In this animation, the entry, descent, landing and sample acquisition of the Mars Science Laboratory can be seen.
And in an update posted last week, NASA pointed out that one of the several instruments on board, the sample analysis instrument (SAM) is currently undergoing thermal and vibration tests to ensure that the payload can survive the jarring launch and cold journey to Mars. Likewise, the engineers at Kentucky Space do much the same thing to ensure that our orbital craft are flight worthy.
Look for news on the Kentucky Space orbital program soon.
The mass spectrometer, gas chromatograph, and tunable laser spectrometer, which collectively make up SAM, will assess, along with the other instrumentation, whether the planet has ever been, or might currently, host microbial life.
SAM will soon ship to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for integration into the SUV-sized rover, which underwent its first mobility tests earlier this year.
Curiosity will leave for Mars next year and arrive in 2013.